Doing yoga as an older woman can transform how you feel about yourself and how you view aging. “Yoga really changed me. It helped me open my heart and mind, and expand as a person,” Rayna Griffin, 67, told me. “I’m digging deeper now. I’m learning, growing and discovering more about myself every day.”
Rayna is one of the ten women featured in YOGINI: Ageless Women, Timeless Tradition. These women’s stories include narratives of physical and emotional healing, of overcoming adversity, and of spiritual renewal. These women come from all parts of the United State, study in different yoga traditions, and range in age from 63 to 85.
This is the first book that explores what yoga means to older women through their personal stories and examines what makes yoga so compelling, so necessary and so gratifying as they get older. As baby boomers age, the svelte, young things on the cover of Yoga Journal will no longer act as role models. The women featured here can serve that purpose.
Some women are trying yoga for the first time at age 65 or 70; others have come back to yoga at that age after a hiatus of 20 or 30 years. Still others, like Ana Franklin, have been practicing consistently for 50 years. What keeps her practicing after all these years? “I could have gone off the deep end if I didn’t have my practice,” she said. “My practice kept me sane and alive.”
In this book, you’ll also meet women who only go to class once a week but have incorporated the principles of yoga into their lives. Women like this are living their yoga, what’s known as "off the mat,” even though they may only be “on the mat” once a week (practicing in class or at home). What counts is how important yoga is to them, how passionate they feel about it, and how pervasive its principles are to their actions and behaviors.
A painter and sculptor, whom you’ll meet in this book, had lost all inspiration until she discovered yoga. It liberated her and inspired her in new ways. Another woman refused to leave her house for a year after her husband died until her neighbors dragged her to a yoga class. It turned her life around.
What’s different about these stories is that the women are all beyond midlife. They are practicing regularly at an age when conventional wisdom says they are too old for yoga, and they are receiving its many benefits. To name a few: strength, flexibility, and balance as well as the calm and peace of mind that are so important as they get older and face the many challenges that accompany aging.
For each of the ten women, yoga opened a new path later in life. Despite their advancing years, they are still growing and learning and evolving in mind, body and spirit. Yoga is what keeps them young and vital. This is what can keep you young and vital.
If you’re over 65 and not doing yoga yet, these stories may motivate you to give it a try. No matter your body size or shape or your health issues, yoga can guide you and support you in the years ahead. Let these ten remarkable women inspire you so that you, too, can reap the benefits of practicing the timeless tradition of yoga.